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Seedorf predicts the shape of football's future

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Chris Bevan | 10:44 UK time, Wednesday, 22 February 2012

During his glittering 20-year playing career in the highest echelons of European football, Clarence Seedorf has seen some dramatic changes to the game he loves. The legendary AC Milan star predicts there are more on the horizon too.

While Uefa's Financial Fair Play ruling is the current hot topic among the Champions League elite, Seedorf is a believer in the more revolutionary ideas which he says are afoot to reshape the game on this continent.

We are talking about a European Super League, or "an NBA of football" as Seedorf puts it. As he explains, the principle would be for fewer matches each season for the top players, but of higher quality. Crucially - and undoubtedly controversially - it would involve the biggest clubs leaving their domestic leagues to take part.

"It is not an easy thing to do because of who you would have to exclude but I have heard about a project they have already in some kind of box," Seedorf, who has won four Champions League titles with three different clubs, told me.

Clarence Seedorf

Clarence Seedorf celebrates winning the Champions League in 2007. Photo: Getty

"Evolution will be made for sure," he added. "I believe in a European League. I would like to see more quality in the game and fewer games mean more quality. This is something that has been discussed many times but the future will be something like that."


As Seedorf can testify with some experience, playing for a team which progresses deep into the Champions or Europa Leagues means you play twice a week for most of the season, even before international games come into the equation. The financial demands this schedule puts on fans is just as high.

"People don't come to the stadiums for every match because if there is a game every three days it is difficult," he said. "You need to make games more exclusive and make them more special.

"Why does everyone love the Champions League? It's because it's exclusive. Even if you win it, you only play 13 games in that competition in a season.

"The Champions League could become the knockout cup of the European League, which would be the real European competition, whatever you wanted to call it.

"So, like the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia and the Premier League and FA Cup you have the European League and European Cup. There are fewer games, and all the best players in the world are involved. It would be like the NBA of football."

While the thought of reinstating a true knockout competition for European clubs would please traditionalists, picturing the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A without, say, Manchester United, Barcelona and AC Milan (to name but three of many sides) is a lot more difficult. The implications for domestic competitions left without their biggest clubs would be grave.

Ultimately, however, money talks - and club football competitions change because of it. You only have to look at the development and expansion of the European Cup and Champions League over the past two decades to see that.

One of the consequences of those changes has been the imbalance - in terms of finance and prestige - between the now all-powerful Champions League and its poorer relation the Europa League.

And while a prospective European Super League could be years away, if it happens at all, Seedorf feels something can be done now to reverse the decline in status of the Europa League. Again, however, the options boil down to money.

You probably remember that United boss Sir Alex Ferguson irked Uefa chief Michel Platini when he described seeing his side drop into the Europa League this season as "a penalty", but it is clear that what was once known as the Uefa Cup is viewed in pretty much the same way across the continent, not just on these shores.

Has it become less significant in recent years? "Yes, definitely," says Seedorf, who has fond memories of being a ball-boy in Amsterdam when Ajax overcame Torino in the second leg of the 1992 final but says he was not bothered about winning the same competition when Milan last entered it in 2008/09.

"It was already a competition in decline, and not seen as important," Seedorf explained. "I think the fans can tell us that better than anyone.

"If supporters are happy when their team is in the Europa League, then maybe change isn't needed. But it is obvious that if you were to have more important clubs in that competition, it becomes more appealing for everyone.

"It would be nice to get that feeling of 20 years when the Uefa Cup was big and very important back, but it is easier said than done.

"Maybe you could reduce the Champions League to make that happen, and even giving the winner of the Europa League a place in the Champions League would definitely help.

"But Uefa have to decide how they want to cut the cake and spread the money around. The difference in finances between the two is a major issue, and setting the incentive is down to them."

Follow me throughout the season on Twitter @chrisbevan_bbc

Reading part one of this interview here.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    What a load of tosh. Could say more but what a load of tosh covers it for me.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just a matter of time before we get a European league.
    Even if it means the top clubs having to break away from Uefa.

  • Comment number 3.

    Won't happen.

    The essence of club football are their own domestic leagues, with the big European games thrown in.

    A European Super league would be just plain boring.

  • Comment number 4.

    Nice article. As a Fulham fan, I'd also like the Europa League's reputation increase, as it seems to be looked down on by the bigger clubs. There has to be a balance where players are proud of playing in Europe, but where there is enough of an incentives for the smaller leagues across Europe to win a title and qualify. I think injecting more cash benefits would help, as well as a champions league place at the end. Maybe it should also be the place where UEFA test out new technology relating to football, such as Goal Line detectors and the like.

    Not sure about this European Super League. Would fans not get a little bored waiting a few weeks for a match? And surely they wouldn't travel away as often. What about a team with a large squad? Would be awesome to watch though.

  • Comment number 5.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 6.

    A European league would be divisive in the impact on domestic league football.

    And expensive in terms of supporters travelling. It's not cheap going to awaydays in this country, imagine the cost of doing it around Europe?

  • Comment number 7.

    Next UEFA deal up for grabs in 2014 and the big European clubs have already made noises about cutting domestic fixtures to fit in more European games.

    Most European leagues are dominated by 2-3 teams with the remainder of teams just there to make up the numbers. On this basis a European league looks like the next stage and there have been enough hints at it in recent years anyway.

  • Comment number 8.

    Seedorf is a legendary mercenary. That much is certain. Is what he is proposing viable? Not if there is any common sense left in football. Top clubs leaving their domestic European leagues would demolish the game at grass root level.

    What can be done is erradicate the group stage of the CL. Make it knock out from start to finish so every game means something and every team stands a chance of causing an upset.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Like the NBA of football." That would be the NBA where each team plays 82 matches per season, eh Clarence? Or maybe I'm just nit-picking. Yeah, why not? Let the big teams s*d-off and play each other and leave the rest of us in peace. Just as long as Sky don't try and tell us that it's what football is all about.

  • Comment number 10.

    They've spoken of a breakaway for more than 15 years now. It won't happen. The Champions League provides all the big clubs need, and has room for expansion. Don't be suprised if the top 5/6 in England & Spain get in in a few years.

    A full breakway - won't happen.

  • Comment number 11.

    "Make it knock out from start to finish so every game means something and every team stands a chance of causing an upset. "


    I agree.

    whilst we are it we can dispense with second legs in the CC together with Replays in all Domestic Cup Competitions in england.

    the business as it where should be settled on the day with extra time and penalties if required.

  • Comment number 12.

    I would love the old style knock-out version of the European cup to come back. That would be brilliant. The CL has become stale. Especially the group stages.

    Barca v Milan to decide who tops the group, again, yawn...

  • Comment number 13.

    But Uefa have to decide how they want to cut the cake and spread the money around. The difference in finances between the two is a major issue, and setting the incentive is down to them."
    -------------------

    Not just down to UEFA though is it? The bigger clubs (the G14 or whatever they are called these days) want the bulk of monies in the CL. As a result the Europa attracts much less cash and marketing=less interest in this competition, which is just a sop to smaller clubs to keep them involved. In its current format the Europa League is not working as it should.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't think a European League will ever come about. One of the reasins the Champions League is so popular is because it doesn't happen every week, it's a treat to visit the San Siro, Nou Camp etc with your team. If it happens every week it'll stop becoming special.

  • Comment number 15.

    Shouldn't happen. But don't say it can't happen.

    La Liga is a two team league as it stands. The Premier League won't allow United, City, Chelsea or whoever else to clear off to a Super League. The Bundesliga seem to have their head screwed on about most things and clearly won't want Bayern Munchen doing one to a European League. All Leagues that have any self respect will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo.

    Limit the Champions League back to two teams. Scrap the Europa League and bring back the UEFA Cup and maybe even the Cup Winners Cup. Back to the Future!

    The greed of UEFA and possibly the G14 is what will determine this dubious prosepect.

  • Comment number 16.

    as we are the topic of the CL.

    why was the Cart-Horse Cahill not given a straight red for lunging in with both feet

    and

    did anyone count the amount of times Drogba dived,fell over etc i counted 7.

  • Comment number 17.

    Seedorf makes the point that fans go to less games because there are two per week. Of course - we know what will happen - rather than paying £100 per game (all in with seat, travel, food drink etc) potentially TWICE per week, the fan will be forced to pay £200 ONCE per week. A super duper European League gives FIFA, the clubs, promoters and TV to whack up all the prices. The rise in face value of Champions League Final tickets is outrageous over the last ten years (similar to pop/rock concert stadium ticket increases) and just slowly pushes away the genuine fans from the game who reach a point where they cannot afford a ticket for the game EVEN if their club did ever get there.

  • Comment number 18.

    @16 I found it ironic how wounded Drogba looked each time he fell to the ground while the bandaged and bleeding Napoli defender just shrugged off his mutilation and never complained.

  • Comment number 19.

    #16 -

    Cart-horse Cahill. Love it. He is fairly mobile, just in the wrong directions.

  • Comment number 20.

    I cant see anyone wanting to leave their respective leagues, the champions league is fine the way it is, the europa league may need a bit of work but to install a "European Super League" would be nothing less than stupid. it would not suprise if UFEA was to get it up and running in that case...........

  • Comment number 21.

    Mr. Seedorf makes some very good points. The game moves on, as someone who does not follow any particular team, I want to see the best players and the best teams, quality above quantity. For me a European League is inevitable and desirable. Look at Serie A, La Liga and the EPL, each clearly has leagues within a league. Just accept and recognise the elite clubs and put them together. By definition most clubs are not elite so will not be impacted, it is the clubs with pretensions to "eliteness" that maybe have an issue with the idea of a Europen Legaue and potentially being excluded.

  • Comment number 22.

    A European league is fine as a concept but only if the principle of promotion and relegation is preserved.

    There has to be a mechanism for teams to drop out and be replaced and not just directly by teams from their country.

    Euro Super League as a 20 team top tier of European football.

    European Cup as the premier knockout competition for members of that league plus the champions of all domestic leagues ~70 teams in total ~6 rounds.

    Europa League as the mechanism for promotion from domestic leagues to ESL. Structured to produce 4 finals (Intertoto style) with 4 winners to replace the bottom 4 in the ESL.

    Members of the ESL to take part in their premier domestic cup competition.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think that the European League concept has missed the boat. It may have had some credence 15 years ago, but I sense that, as the greediest of clubs play each other pretty much every third year in the Avarice, sorry, Champions League that the novelty has already started to wain. For all the hype, I don't see that many people being that bothered by watching, say Manchester United v Barcelona as they know another chance will come along sooner probably than later. The phrase "killing the goose that laid the golden egg" springs to mind.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ 21 do you know what will happen to TV money for domestic clubs once the top 2-3 leave? It will dry up. This money is the lifeline for many domestic clubs because it trickles down in the form of transfers, youth academies etc. As someone who doesn't follow any particular team you might be excused for not having a particularly good understanding of the implications of such an exodus.

  • Comment number 25.

    Would their be promotion and relegation from this money spinning league or would the franchises be protected, oh let the cat out of the bag!!!!
    The dream of all real football fans not armchair tv fans would be well and truly ended!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I honestly don't see it happening, especially if clubs have to leave their own domestic league. Your club purely and simply can't say no to home games tickets revenues. £30 average tickets x 50.000 seats x 18 games = £27M to just forget? You're having a laugh! Truth is, if it doesn't make sense financially for the clubs, it will be deemed a bad idea. End of.

  • Comment number 27.

    Good to see some articles regarding Europe, it has become a little repetative reading a blog about arsenal's demis, man city or man utd in the premier league.

    Have to agree with Seedorf that as football has become more globalised, the expanse of a european league is a distinct possibility. Though I can imagine big teams from lesser leagues Celtic for example being the first to break away from Uefa. I think ultimately it will be a case of whether UEFA will go with it or against it, but it is a likely certainty.

  • Comment number 28.

    It'll happen. Its just a question of working out how.

    Do we have promotion and relegation? (it would make sense if we did, for example, Liverpool would have been an automatic choice a couple of years ago but they wouldn't qualify now, while Manchester City or Chelsea have both moved into the reckoning relatively recently).

    If we do have promotion and relegation, how does it happen? Obviously, you can't have the top club in the domestic league automatically replacing their lowest placed compatriot from the European Super League, what would happen if (as could have happened in the last few years) if the top four in the ESL were all English and the fourth placed side was the bottom placed English side? It would also involve a lot of promotion and relegation.

    Equally, you can't say that just the bottom 3 would be relegated because the larger countries (particularly England, Spain and Italy) would never see a change in their representatives and there would be little additional financial incentive for the remaining sides to try to win the Premiership, La Liga etc).

    Do you set it up as a league for Europe's strongest sides, in which case it would become a fairly closed shop with only English, Italian, Spanish, German sides, with the odd French, Dutch and Portuguese side, but excluding Belgian, Swiss, Swedish, Polish etc sides, or do you set it up with one side from each country, which would exclude many stronger sides and would not lead to week-in, week-out matches between the best sides.

    More thought needed, but I think it will happen...

  • Comment number 29.

    3.At 12:07 22nd Feb 2012, dogeared wrote:
    Won't happen.

    The essence of club football are their own domestic leagues, with the big European games thrown in.

    A European Super league would be just plain boring.
    ____________

    Let's be honest, ask a lot of fans, and answer me, would they / you pay money to watch Liverpool v Wigan or Liverpool v Real Madrid?

    I know which one I would prefer to watch. The generation of loyalty, especially to a domestic league is a dying breed.

  • Comment number 30.

    @18


    from what i saw he either spent most the game committing fouls or falling over feigning injury.

  • Comment number 31.

    Worst idea ever. Fewer games will obviously increase the exclusivity of the matches but will also drive ticket prices up which are already too high. It's a joke idea which will kill club rivalries in each country and make our glorious sport as laughable as Amercian "sports" with their franchise system and even higher wages for already pampered players

  • Comment number 32.

    Would English teams get in the super European league given their record in the Champions League this season?! ;)

    It would probably get as dull as every other league, 2 or 3 teams battling it out.

    Real Madrid and Barcelona probably, which we already have with the Spanish league.

    In the super-duper league, would there be relegation and promotion? That element would have to exist to make it remotely interesting.

    Also with a superleague, make way to have matches played all over the world.

    Seedorf - a great player and intelligent man, how did he come up with this.

  • Comment number 33.

    " A European league is fine as a concept but only if the principle of promotion and relegation is preserved."

    by my reckoning thats Celtic ,Rangers, Colwyn Bay and Cardiff sorted then.

  • Comment number 34.

    Seedorf only thinks this,because the Italian League is pants! The reason the Champions League is special,is because its exclusive and the top teams play a maximum of 13 teams. If we saw Man Utd v Barca/Real/Bayern/etc every Wednesday and Saturday in a European League,it wouldnt be exciting anymore. The English Premier League is fantastic anyway,and then when the Champions League games are on,its perfect.

  • Comment number 35.

    What the foreign owners want is a cartel and a franchise system. They want the ability to extort money from city councils with the threat of moving the franchise elsewhere if they don't get what they want.

    You'll see. They'd move a franchise from London to Naples if it made them money. From Manchester to Dublin. From Lyons to Paris. From Dortmund to Berlin.

    What the owners want is a global football brand that they own and control lock, stock and barrel. The analogy is the NFL, not the NBA. They'll impose financial controls and they'll wipe out every other footballing organisation on the planet.

    Local supporters will be irrelevant. The brand will be global and can migrate anywhere.

    It's what people signed up to when they sold their clubs to foreigners.

    Now they must decide whether they value localism, national clubs or even European systems.

    Because a glorified Harlem Globetrotters is the endgame if the franchisees get their way......

  • Comment number 36.

    Its a matter of when because of greed !

    At the moment because the whole of Europe is in recession its not open to discussion as strongly

    However get a few more oil rich billionaires and trillionaires involved like Man City, PSG and that Russian side it will be back on the agenda

    Silvio Berlusconi was one of the main drivers for the Super league before his troubles

    I can see Rupert Murdoch licking his lips and offering a huge deal for the Super League to get it going

    Domestic cup competitions have little value now soon it will be domestic leagues

  • Comment number 37.

    Cry about it all you wont and maybe your right in saying it will not happen but i'm all for it ....it's the beautiful game but it's becoming tired and predictable! If your standing still your going backwards!

    A European Super League would be fantastic!

  • Comment number 38.

    CL is a farce and should be champions only. The only natural progression is for a European League. There was nothing wrong with the way it was (except it wasn't making enough money for UEFA). All this seeding and stuff is rubbish. Just making it easier for the bigger clubs to progress easier to the latter stages.

  • Comment number 39.

    I can see something in terms of a model being very similar to that of the MLB (Major League Baseball) format where either there are 1 or 2 European Super Leagues. So you would have say Super League North and Super League South and then have a play off / knock out season finale. Eg Man Utd, Milan, Bayern etc

    Conversely there could be an NLB (National League Baseball) secondary tiered european league with or european format with second tiered teams that didn't make it to the "Super" League. Eg Everton, Bilbao, Schalke.

    In terms of revenue, whilst there would be an increase in travel costs etc, since games will be played once a week, the fixtures load should be less and the clubs would charge more for tickets etc to cover costs. Fans would undoubtedly pay more as the value would be to see Man Utd v Barcelona for £200 as opposed to watching Man Utd v Swansea (no offence) for £50.

  • Comment number 40.

    I believe that the majority in England and Spain would wholly endorse a European Super League with no relegation..... Provided that it comprised just two teams: Manchester United and Real Madrid playing each other over and over again.

    They could broadcast it on ESPN 'Ocho'.

  • Comment number 41.

    the idea that fewer games leads to better quality is a bit suspicious to me; it sounds like what a player would say rather than a fan.
    consider a title-chasing team playing a relegation candidate on a Saturday. this game is made more exciting by the prospect of the better team having to plan around a mid-week European game. not only can it lead to upsets, but also to more unpredictable games.
    if the top sides in europe played each other in a league once every fortnight, with a euro cup as the only distraction, i think the games and outcomes would be more predictable.

    also, the financial disparity of being in the premier league, as opposed to the championship, has probably had a negative impact on the running of clubs.
    i have a suspicion that if a european super league ever did emerge, the players would swap clubs every season. maybe trading of players would end up being like the NFL college type system.

    i personally hope that no such pan-euro league emerges.

  • Comment number 42.

    It would definately be one at the expense of the other, and I am sceptical about the top clubs' longevity without the breeding grounds that are the 'lower' professional clubs (which in a European context probably equates to tens of thousands of clubs and hundreds of thousands of households directly affected by this financially).

  • Comment number 43.

    Seedorf's comments are utter rubbish. A european super league is an elitist & self-interested idea. It would take better quality football away from the fans & ruin the game in each country - the ultimate example of money causing further ruin to the game.

  • Comment number 44.

    6. At 12:10 22nd Feb 2012, Bela Lugosis Dad wrote:
    A European league would be divisive in the impact on domestic league football.
    And expensive in terms of supporters travelling. It's not cheap going to awaydays in this country, imagine the cost of doing it around Europe?

    =======================================
    Having seen the huge groups of Irish and Norwegian fans travelling to certain NW Premier League clubs, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of fans already flying around Europe to watch weekly football.

    Is it only going to be European Cup winners allowed into this Super Euro League? Forest, Villa, Celtic, ManU, Liverpool... Sorry London, nothing for you! ;)

    The super league may end up being its own nemesis though. If the remaining English league TV coverage cost becomes within the budget of terrestrial TV then the exposure for these clubs may satisfy some of England's appetite for football and the super league could fall on its backside in a Ronaldo-esque dive.

  • Comment number 45.

    usually when this type of talk happens it usually pans out that way, regardless of fans feelings towards such propositions.

    u "will" do what the old men in suits tell you and you "will" bend over for them.

    agree with 15, they should rename it "champions (although 2nd 3rd and 4th can be involved too to make us suits much more money) league".

    yes that's right little ants who is your daddy's.

  • Comment number 46.

    @32 given their record in the CL since it's inception, English clubs would be the highest ranked for sure

  • Comment number 47.

    32.
    At 12:56 22nd Feb 2012, Jasperino wrote:

    Would English teams get in the super European league given their record in the Champions League this season?! ;)
    _________________________________

    I think the first league will be by invitation only , G14 plus selected others.

    The idea I saw about 15 years ago was 2 leagues containing 16 teams with promotion and relegation between the two. Also with a cup competition.

    New teams could only enter if a team dropped out or if there were enough candidates for a 3rd division.

    In terms of the worldwide revenue it would be enormous and very profitable to the clubs involved.

  • Comment number 48.

    This idea got me so angry I spelt there, their thinking of the franchises to come.
    As a supporter of a Championship side my dream is to get into the playoffs, get promotion, not get relegated for a few seasons and exist in mid table. Let alone qualify for the Champions League, if this happens the dream is dead!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    interested to hear what he thinks of this super league should Ajax not make the cut

  • Comment number 50.

    Utter nonsense. You only have to look at the size of the crowds at Champions League qualifying round and group fixtures. Domestic leagues in many countries are much more important to fans than any sort of Euro super league. Fans know the Champions League is a big financial bonus but there is no passion there, no real club rivalry and very little history.

  • Comment number 51.

    I really couldn't give a stuff about European football, and I especially couldn't give a stuff about the Europa League. The entire exercise is just a cash cow for UEFA to milk, hence why the fourth placed team in the league can get an invite into the competition, and pretty much anybody down to seventh can get European football guaranteed. It is utterly ridiculous.

    If we must persist with European football then I agree with Seedorf's argument about exclusivity. Make it a straight 16 team knockout contest. The top four leagues get to enter two teams, the next eight get to enter one. To keep things interesting, I'd have our entries be the League winner and the FA Cup winner.

    Of course, the big clubs will never go for this as it'd cut their revenue, and it would mean they couldn't bank on having European football to fill the coffers despite only finishing fourth, thus perpetuating the monopoly they have on English football.

  • Comment number 52.

    @ 49 he forgot about Ajax a long time ago. He is all about the $$$.

  • Comment number 53.

    This is an interesting article which opens up quite an interesting debate on how the future of football may take shape. I think that when a footballer of a prestigious club openly admits he isn’t bothered about winning a competition then those running the game need to look seriously at this.

    In my opinion a big problem is that football is in essence no longer considered to be a sport rather a ‘product’ and this ‘product’ is now directed not at the fans who go through the turnstiles each week but at the tv & media companies who pay vast amounts to secure the rights to these competitions.

    Like other contributors I think that whilst a European Super League has no doubt been talked about in the higher echelons of UEFA but I can’t see it happening in the near future as I don’t think the football associations of each country would allow it and I think the vast majority of fans of the clubs likely to be involved would also be against this not that they would have much of a say anyway!!

    The problem with the champions league is the number of teams involved means that there are too many games with not much to play for and this is not exciting for the fans. I think they need to address this problem by going back to the old format of the European Cup where each round is a two leg affair wherby the top two from each country qualify and then the 3rd and 4th place teams qualify for the Uefa cup. I would also do away with the away goals rule as I believe this encourages negative tactics.

  • Comment number 54.

    We are at a tipping point in football. The fans are expected to watch the games and buy the merchandise, however in a time of austerity there isn't much money about. The European game already has created a gulf between the top clubs and the rest of the home league. The Champions League is an excuse for a private members club. The average fan will not be able to travel all around Europe and then the clubs will realise they have killed the golden goose. Fans want competitive games, and there needs to be a redistribution of wealth to the lower league and grass routes clubs. I am all in favour of Premiership clubs partnering with lower league clubs to help them to survive and we then we might get to see some of younger talented British players in action.
    Any form of break away would be a disaster for football, it would alienate fans and simply confirm the growing feeling that the football clubs don't care about their fans.

  • Comment number 55.

    I wouldnt travel across europe for every away game!! and i doubt many others would, the costs would be at least double what it costs now for most away games. Plus the domestic leagues would crumble away to nothing.

    I cant ever remember talking about a football clubs finances in the 80's or 90's, that is what has really changed, money is ruling football to such an extent that its now taking it away from the fans.

  • Comment number 56.

    European Super league - interesting concept but how long could any of the top teams and their fans go without winning a trophy before they became disillusioned with it all? If the league contained 16 teams, there would be 15 losing teams and fans each year who are very much used to winning. A club like AC Milan or Manchester United could go 20-odd years winning nothing and always being at the bottom of the table - would this be acceptable to their fans, backers and marketers?

    The problem with these ideas is history and how do you change perceptions to make it work. The NBA and other US leagues have also grown this way organically and they are mostly, with the exception of MLB, part of a larger socialist-style model where wealth and talent are distributed fairly equally.

    There's plenty of work to do and barriers to overcome for this to be fully realised.

  • Comment number 57.

    Fans would undoubtedly pay more as the value would be to see Man Utd v Barcelona for £200 as opposed to watching Man Utd v Swansea (no offence) for £50.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    No they wouldn't. I pay £702 for my Stretford End season ticket now, how could I afford £200 per game? Bearing in mind there would be at least 38 games. £7500 a season ticket?

    If United draw say Barca, Real or AC Milan it's a great draw and the chance to visit one of the worlds great draws. It's great because it doesn't happen very often; if it happens once a season it'll lose that appeal very quickly.

  • Comment number 58.

    I agree that something has to change. Giving a Champions League place to the Europa League winner would be a good start. Quick and easy to implement, and would suddenly make it worth winning in many teams' eyes.

  • Comment number 59.

    I'm sorry, but Clarance is talking nonsense. He's getting close to retirment now, I imagine he is being invited to various ex pro events, dinners etc and at one of these events, while having a friendly chat with, perhaps, an former player, now representing UEFA,the idea of a super league was discussed. His playing career is just that, a career spent playing, not studying ethics, economics or philosophy, so why Seedorf suddenly would have an informed opinion on the pros and cons of what would, essentially, be a financial decision, is beyond me. I respect the man's distinguished playing career, but I can't help but think that this statement is nothing more than him playing nice for UEFA in order to bag a position with them when he retires fully.

  • Comment number 60.

    If it ever happens it will change football as we know it forever.

    The clubs who join will break away from UAFA & their FA's and run it for themselves. It will be probably be 2 leagues of 16 or 18 clubs with TV revenue being sold individually by club.

    It will end international football as there's no way they will release their players due to the injury risk.

    Mind you, the quality of the football would be much better than that of internationals - the champions league already is.

    I don't think it will happen in the next few years, but in 10 years maybe, 20 years probably.

  • Comment number 61.

    I can't see a European Super League working. I'm pretty sure the clubs are of the same opinion as I think that's the only reason why it hasn't already happened.

    Take the AC Milan vs Arsenal or Napoli vs Chelsea games as an example. Do people really think there would be any away support if these games were mid-table dead rubbers instead of a Champions League last 16 tie?

    After 6 or 7 league games supporters of teams who are already falling away from the title chase will soon lose interest as will the television stations covering the league. What would happen to those teams that finish bottom 3 or 4? Would they be relegated back to their national leagues?

  • Comment number 62.

    Don't know why folk are dissing Seedorf and his opinions, other than it will make the EPL weaker and a sideshow compared to an ESL. He's just telling it like it is.

    We already had the owners in the EPL considering removing relegation to guarantee revenues. An ESL would more than assure them of future incomes, if their club is in it of course.

    It may not happen in the next 5 - 10yrs but something will happen. If the G14+ really want something it is unlikely that Uefa will do anything about it. It's like players still on contracts who state they want off. They usually get their wish. Uefa will want to maintain some control on it so will eventually concede to the wishes of the major clubs in Europe. promotion and relegation (if there was any) are minor issues that are easily sorted out.

    Oddly enough though, the domestic leagues will become more competitive as most of the clubs outside top 2 or 3 in each major country are much of a muchness.

  • Comment number 63.

    Errrrm! There is already a Eurpoean Super League. It's called the Champions league.

  • Comment number 64.

    57.At 13:25 22nd Feb 2012, We all follow United wrote:
    _______________

    But what's to stop them cancelling season tickets? Or reducing the amount and selling first come first serve? Living in London (and recently moved that is) I can't afford a season ticket (I was on the waiting list and could have bought this year but due to the move I had to cancel) let alone afford to travel.

    However if they start to sell individual tickets, I could quite easily pick and choose my matches and decide to go to watch Milan V Man Utd, or Bayern v Man Utd etc. It would open a great deal more revenue. The proposals would very much be a franchise system much like they are in USA.

    Don't get me wrong I'm opposed to it, but the fact that TV revenue tends to rule football at the moment, I can see it being an inevitability that this is the next step forward.

  • Comment number 65.

    In NBA, every team actually needs to play 82 games or even more if they enter the play-off season.

  • Comment number 66.

    To upgrade the Europa League you need to reduce the number of teams in the CL.

    So as a rule:
    CL entrants: League Winners, Cup Winners, 2nd placed (depending on coefficients)
    So in England from last season it would have been Man Utd (EPL), Man City (FA cup), Birmingham City (League) and Chelsea (3rd placed).
    That way you would have greater respect / challenge for the cup competitions, and you should get increased competition in the Europa League as well.

    Also make the two competitions straight knockouts and this would increase the competition and reduce matches. However we know this is all about revenue, so that would be inlikely to happen.

  • Comment number 67.

    59

    true

  • Comment number 68.

    The European Super League is an utterly dreadful idea and always has been.

    It's not about the 'future' of football. Who will the 'elite' clubs be, and how will they be decided? Will there be promotion and relegation?

    What happens to local rivalries in domestic leagues? What if Real Madrid are in the Super League, and Atletico are not? What happens to the Madrid derby? You are taking away decades of history and community rivalry.

    I see the European Super League as the idea that will kill club football- I've been waiting for the bubble to burst in football for a long time which will drag down the salaries of the overpaid players and discourage the leeches which call themselves agents- unfortunately people with far more cash than sense like Roman Abramovich and Arab sheikhs came along and pumped personal fortunes into football clubs.

    The one good thing about the European Super League idea is that although it will eventually kill the game, when people get bored with it and the clubs go crawling back to their domestic FAs to be re-admitted, hopefully they will be refused.

    This is football marketed for Wing Ling Dong in Singapore or Malaysia so he can go: "REAL! MU! BARCA! Messi so much better than Ronaldo! MEEEELAN!" etc, etc, ad nauseam. But I reckon even Mr Dong is eventually going to to get fed up of plastic, corporate, overhyped football pantomimes played in front of bored, spoilt supporters.

  • Comment number 69.

    Has Clarence forgotten who pays his modest salary, the T.V. companys are king and they demand to see the top teams play more and more, not less. For instance Sky would not tolerate the Premier League being weakened, nor Sky Calcio the Italian league. Lets face facts, T.V. calls the shots so don´t think about taking it too easy just yet Clarence

  • Comment number 70.

    A European League is a possibility, clubs leaving their domestic leagues isn't. Even the Champions League winners don't make as much from Europe as a mid-table Premier League side makes from the domestic season.

    There isn't a huge, untapped new audience, either. Who would watch this who doesn't already watch the Champions League?

    Reforming the CL into a real league format, while allowing the teams to continue playing in domestic competition could probably only happen if both competitions were limited to 16 teams. That would also make the secondary European competition more significant.

  • Comment number 71.

    It will at least be a feasible way for Platini to get his financial "fair" play scheme to work, by starting a new league from scratch.

    To sort out the Europa league all you have to do is get rid of the 3rd place finishers from the Champions League entering into the knock-out stages. The amount of games you have to play in a league season if entered in that cup is ridiculous, and is why it is treated badly by clubs. That emotion then goes down to the fans, hence the way the competition is treated now.

  • Comment number 72.

    A breakaway from domestic league is not the idea here. The natural evolution of the Champions League is that it is going to be the 'top-flight' competition in each UEFA member state.

    I am talking about the same selection criteria we have for Champions League based on the country's coefficient, but instead of 32 teams, it'll only be 20, and so the number of games will be the same as normal leagues.

    At the end of the first season, the bottom 10 can be relegated, so there will be the playoff to get 10 new teams into the second season, and so on. To qualify for the playoff, again we can use the current criteria for Champions League

  • Comment number 73.

    Reducing the domestic leagues to 16 so that a chosen few can play in a Euro league will never happen - why would the bottom 14 teams vote for it when they'd never have a chance to participate in the Euro league.

    On the other hand - allowing those chosen few to exit gives those bottom 14 more chance of staying up or even winning the domestic title - even if it was devalued.

  • Comment number 74.

    I think its a poor idea. 1 - like people have mentioned it would be annoying waiting a couple of weeks for your teams game. 2 - the prem league/la liga would be boring. As a spurs fan i look forward to us playing man u/chelsea etc. The best thing i have read on this blog is number 8... The thought of that would be exciting, at least minor teams would have a chance of an upset. Instead of seeing a group with barca/milan i mean whats the point in the other two teams being in the group? Domination. Apart from that the CL is pretty much perfect. They should sort out the number of games you play in the Europa league, its a joke...

  • Comment number 75.

    And, sadly - Rangers Football Club won't make any prospective European League

  • Comment number 76.

    @59 He's been studying a degree in business at Bocconi University in Milan and owns a Sports Management business, AS WELL AS playing for AC Milan. So he's actually one of the better placed people in the game to form an informed opinion on this subject!

  • Comment number 77.

    A lot of what fans enjoy about football is the banter they can have with opposing fans and the intense rivalry between teams. A lot of that will be lost in European super league.

    It would destroy all the domestic leagues as the big money and sponsorship would move to the new venture.

    Without relegation of European places a lot of teams would have nothing to play for. Would it be that exciting to watch Chelsea v Ajax as they fight to finsih 14/15 in the super league? No it would be the equivilant of wtahcing stoke v aston villa.

  • Comment number 78.

    Giving a Champions league place to the Europa League winner is a great idea, would give real promise to an otherwise worthless competition. Making the Champions League a knockout competition is also a great idea. Mimics the most successful competition in the world (the FA Cup) and would generate much greater interest from those who, like me, don't even watch the Champions league until the knockout stage. Although there would be fewer matches, monetary oppertunites would increase due to higher interest and more excitement.

    I do not understand UEFA as a English football fan

  • Comment number 79.

    "Ultimately, however, money talks - and club football competitions change because of it." Mainly TV Broadcaster money talks - this epitomises what is wrong with the game - its is meant to be a sport, not a cash cow - times change & things move on, but to forget why this sport, these clubs and these comeptitions exist - becasue of & for the fans, not financial gain, is criminal. FIFA/UEFA would do well to focus on developing the game in the interest of the people, not corporations.

  • Comment number 80.

    #8
    What can be done is erradicate the group stage of the CL. Make it knock out from start to finish so every game means something and every team stands a chance of causing an upset.
    -------------------------------

    The big clubs won't ever allow this - too much revenue to be made from the guarantee of group games.

    #75

    C'mon what other prospective Scottish Third Division team gets 50,000 people through the door every other week!?

    With this daily soap opera I'll be laughing every day until next August at least!!

  • Comment number 81.

    already bored of watching arsenal v barcelona every year. european football had a mistique about it but that will be completely eroded with a euro super league cos everyone woudl be playing each other every 5 minutes. what then, a super super league? quite frankly if the big teams all want to p**s off and take Sky with them, maybe football can get back to what it used to be about. i predict growing disillusionment with football as it is will lead us to go the other direction, not become pan European.

    also clarence, not everyone loves the champions league as you put it. money men do, sky do, players now do but a lot of people think it's utter rubbish until at least the 1/4 finals. the group stages are god awful and boring.

  • Comment number 82.

    I like the point about giving the Europa League winners a CL placing.

  • Comment number 83.

    I think this is a really important topic as life shows as well as football that it always changes and evolves. The reason the Uefa cup has lost a lot of it's appeal from years gone by is because of the increased number of spots made available to domestic leagues. Before only the Champions, one team from each league made up the European cup so the vast majority of Europe's top clubs filtered into the Uefa cup which meant more chance of a glamour tie for maybe a less prestigious trophy. For the future it really is hard to see how to improve the current format without affecting the Europa league altogether but the real sticking point is domestic leagues and the absolute anihilation financially if you take Manchester United Arsenal Etc...out of them. Money would stop going in and owners would sell up shop quick at huge losses. All the money would go into this super league which would just continue growing so it's a pretty delicate situation to deal with

  • Comment number 84.

    The idea of a European League is not as far fetched as some people would like it to appear. Remember the outcry when it was first suggested that there could be more than one team from one country in the European championship? The argument was that how could it be possible that a team which came 3rd or even 4th in its own league then become the champion of Europe. And where are we now?

  • Comment number 85.

    There will not be a Euro Super League for one reason and one reason only. If the clubs did break away, then pretty soon, there would be 3 or 4 clubs that will realistically have a shot of winning it year in and year out . I think clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Lyon and the like would get tired of being nothing more than a mid-table club year in, year out. Their fan base would surely shrink, given the fact that they never win anything. Clubs than join would be kicked out of domestic cup competitions as a consequence of joing the Euro Super League. Realistically, the clubs challenging for the league title would be Man U, Man City, Barca and Real Madrid given their resources; everyone else will fight for scraps. So in effect, the league would be seen as a closed shop in regards to who can win it, and I can't see the aforementioned clubs playing second fiddle with no hopes of winning anything.

  • Comment number 86.

    Money talks !!!
    Makes sense .Only a matter of time .Television demands and gets it.
    Needs a marketing man like the Premier League person, who rules the fields of play.
    The league will be bigger than the World Cup.
    Footballing fans being fickle will buy into the idea.
    What should not happen is damage the grassroots of sport overall.

  • Comment number 87.

    I don't understand why he would NBA as an example, does he know how many games they play per season?? 82!! that's not even counting the play-offs!!

  • Comment number 88.

    I would oppose such a league - how do you get in and what makes you leave? Does it lead to the dilution of football elsewhere? I would happily return to an English league with predominantly English players - say one non-UK and three non-English. Anything else is just money-led and downhill all the way.

  • Comment number 89.

    quick question for english footie experts...

    When the UEFA new rules come into play about home grown players in the squad, will someone who is welsh- and then transfers to an epl club- for instance be counted as home grown? eventhough wales is a separate country? or will it depend if he was 'home grown' in an english league playing club like cardiff or the opposite like barry town?

  • Comment number 90.

    The English FA tried to dissuade Manchester United from entering the European Cup as it was then known. Finance and ambition ruled the day, as it most often does. The ambition to play against the best teams in the world, and reap the financial rewards therefrom may be all that is required to set the Euro Super League in motion. Such a venture though demands the support of a very large fan base and there are very few soccer clubs in Europe which can claim such a condition.

    Discussions raised by postings such as No. 56 raise the question of teams playing with such exalted company and not winning the supreme trophy. Would such an event result in reduced support? A valid question indeed but one which may be answered by say fans of Fulham who still attend the Cottage regardless.

    How about fans being unable to travel to all the away games? How many do that even over the short distances necessary in England, Spain, Germany, Italy, etc.? The product on the field and the presentation must overcome that. This is largely shown in the organization of the NFL wherein travel is probably greater than will be realized in the possible Euro Super League.

    In the long term, fan base is crucial and only the usual suspects can claim such loyal followings in the numbers required. It may be stated that a super rich owner can supply the financial support required in order for a small club to compete. However, such a condition may be subject to the whim of one person and therefore considered less favorable.

    Promotion and relegation may therefore be somewhat difficult, although not a necessity as shown in the NFL; NBA & NHL Travel to away games like Vancouver to Miami or San Diego to Boston is somewhat unlikely but the fans are undeterred from attending home games.

    The consensus seems to be that such a league is inevitable but there are many issues to be resolved. One may wish to live long enough to see such a high level of skill on a weekly basis.

  • Comment number 91.

    You don't need to leave domestic leagues to play in a european super league, but you would need to reduce the numbers involved in the top divisions, scrap pre-season shutdown and increase squad sizes, say from 25 to 30, with the extra 5 having to be home-growns perhaps.

    So in England you have a 16 team top flight played out over 30 match-days. You also have the FA Cup over another 6 match-days (no replays). Teams can be promoted and relegated, where promotion is to the 2nd tier of the European League if they aren't already involved, and relegation sees them drop a division in the European League as well, whether that be to the 2nd tier or out of it altogether. Exceptions will be made as appropriate, for example where a situation like Liverpool's in 2005 occurs... The European Super League would be 2 divisions of 16 teams, requiring 30 match-days. No reason why all 3 of the old school european trophies couldn't run alongside the Super League in some form, and these could offer genuine routes into the 2nd tier. There could also be play-offs to determine relegation and promotion as appropriate.

    36 domestic fixtures plus the Shield, and 39 European fixtures (for EC teams) plus Super Cup and World Cup games would mean about 80 matches tops. In 08/09 the CL final was United's 66th game of the season packed into 290 days - one every four and a half days (without even counting enforced international breaks which squeeze the calendar down further still). It would have to be an incredible run for any team to reach 80 matches, but even if they did there's plenty of time in the calendar to fit in 14 more - in theory at least.

  • Comment number 92.

    Nobody in suits has ever cared about the fans through the turnstyles or doing an away trip.

    It comes down to money; and TV rights are where the money is at. A European Super League will coin it in, especially in the growing Asian market.

    Can't see promotion/relegation working to and from national leagues, it would have to be a semi-closed shop with the only promotion and relegation happening between the 2-tier European League, like the dying duck that is the County Cricket Championship.

    I hope they never go near a continental super league, but the cynic in me says....

  • Comment number 93.

    I dont want it and i cant see many clubs or fans wanting it. The clubs already get money from the champions league. Maybe spain would want it as thier league is so uncompetitive but other than that most of the other leagues are exciting as they are.

    If the ffp rules are actually enforced then football will be fine in 10 years time or so as wages and transfers will stop increasing as clubs like city and chelsea wont be able to buy success or compete in european competitions.

  • Comment number 94.

    92 I see it more as the 2nd tier being a virtual revolving door to domestic leagues, meaning that emerging sides could effectively fast-track themselves via their domestic leagues (via play-offs), domestic cups, and via the re-established Uefa and ECWCs. Within a 16 team 2nd tier there could be 3 up 3 down every season, depending on 3 different teams winning the Domestic champions play-offs, the Uefa Cup and the ECWC. It would get complicated when the winners of the various comps overlap mind, so say the English league winners also win the FA Cup and are already in the Super League - if a similar pattern were repeated across the top leagues though that's where you'd get variation into the 2nd tier just as you do now in the group stage of the CL I suppose.

  • Comment number 95.

    To me the idea of a Super League seems short sighted. As many people comment the second you are saturated with these exciting matches it just stops being that exciting. The expansion of the Champions League has meant that clubs we would not see for years are on tv of playing our own teams once, twice or more a season and it just isn't as special. I also agree with the point of eventually it would end up like the individual leagues now with some teams dominating. What would happen with tv rights as well; would Real and Barca be happy with sharing or would they want the rights to negotiate as they do now?

    BleuBlancRouge, home grown doesn't really relate to nationality at all, hence the Aussie Brad Jones at Liverpool counting as part of their home grown contingent. I think it's down to being trained for 3 years by an English club when the player is under 21.

  • Comment number 96.

    From a fans perspective it makes no sense. It would be too expensive to be continually travelling around Europe for games and paying what inevitably would be inflated ticket prices because you're watching 'the best'. Not to mention the fact that playing Real Madrid et al would no longer be as special as it is now. Can definitely see it happening though purely because of TV Revenues and Billionaires wanting to pit their 'toys' against each other.

    I would like to see a knock out Champions League straight from the start, where the champions of all UEFA member top leagues get to enter (plus a few more from the major European leagues). Because the financial gap is so big the chances of say the champions of Liechtenstein beating the champions of Spain are pretty remote to say the least but an away tie would be a money spinner for them and raise their profile.

  • Comment number 97.

    80 people are obsessed with this idea that the group stages of the CL are purely about the big clubs making money. in reality these matches only guarantee 2 extra home games than if you went straight into knock-out. and these two extra games are a huge opportunity for the minnows involved - and for the emerging teams - to make a bit of cash, get a taste of the top for once, and to gain experience.

    we've seen regularly down the years teams like Spurs, Rubin or Basel going to United or Barcelona or Milan and putting on magnificent performances to upset the home teams. and yet cynics who present their views as trying to protect the integrity of the sport would rather these sides took their chances over a two-legged game and then disappear again? yes they might cause the odd upset over two legs, but let's be honest, they rarely ever have and they rarely ever will.

  • Comment number 98.

    The whole reason why football is the most popular sport in the world is that success has to be EARNED. You have to qualify for the World Cup, European Championships, Champions League, etc. If Seedorf and his greedy friends have their way, that will all end. The big clubs will automatically be in the League - and don't expect much in the way of relegation/promotion opportunities.

    This would be a very stale competition. Forget the chances of a Monaco or a Porto winning the Champions League. You'll have 16-20 teams tops and membership will be confined to traditional big names in Europe. And I wouldn't bet on having too many English clubs in it - outside of Manchester united and Liverpool, who actually has a record of winning multiple European trophies? Possibly Arsenal, with a generous definition, and that's it.

    I think fans would go off this idea very quickly. Personally, I coouldn't care less. I watch real, affordable football in Leagues One and Two and will carry on doing so.

  • Comment number 99.

    95 the argument about familiarity breeding contempt is equally short-sighted though, and in fact moreso. For a start off domestically we've seen the same match-ups year after year after year and let's be honest, very few of them put a bounce in your stride walking into the ground.

    The argument about seeing the same sides on tele removes the mystique is cured very easily by simply not watching football on tele as often, surely?

  • Comment number 100.

    The world wide expansion of football needs to take account of the brand and the uniformity of football across all social demographics.
    Fifa's "instantaneous" Goaline Technology is a good concept. The problem with "instantaneous" goaline technology is the impracticalities. Laser beams, computer programming continuously being updated, electrical fields generated by jewellery. Sensors have to be installed in several footballs and not affect the ball speed curve etc. Continuous testing of computer systems, laser beams and the enormous Expense.
    Statistically, goaline technology will be used at most football grounds approximately ONCE a DECADE , there will be instances where goaline technology is not utilised in some grounds for 20 years or more ! The problem for instantaneous technology is in the one instance it is to be required after a 10 year wait, is, will it be working correctly ?
    The way to operate goaline technology is to use CAMERAS ONLY and stop the game with a "video appeal" after all we are talking about a once in a decade decision, if Didier Drogba goes down in the penalty area pretending he is dead, we stop the game don't we ? It's a once in a decade decision ?
    The most important aspect of using cameras only plus a video appeal to decide on a goal is the ability to REPLICATE the process across all sections of the football world.
    The ability to replicate goaline technology across the world using much cheaper and inherently more reliable cameras and human judgement is essentially more reliable and practical for replication, it is replication that is the most important aspect !
    We should not forget the rest of the football world and the uniformity of the brand !

 

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